The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja put Professor Lawrence Adedibu Ojerinde, his three sons, and a daughter-in-law on trial for allegedly disposing of the property of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in Ghana.
The accused, who were all present in court, were docked on 17-count criminal charges by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Prof Ojerinde, already arraigned twice, was docked for the third time alongside his family’s six companies.
In the new charge, the former JAMB registrar is accused of selling off a Federal Government property situated at House No. 4, Ahomko Drive, Achimota Phase Two, Accra, Ghana.
The house was said to have been sold by Ojerinde and his sons after it was forfeited to the federal government.
The fresh charge indicated that the alleged corrupt benefit conferred on Ojerinde by one Jimoh Olabisi Olatunde while he was a public officer contravened Section 26 (1) (c) and is punishable under Section 24 of the ICPC Act 2000.
Arraigned alongside Ojerinde were his three sons, Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde, Adedayo Ojerinde, and Oluwaseun Adeniyi Ojerinde, as well as his daughter-in-law, Mary Funmilola Ojerinde.
The family’s companies also put on trial were Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, Cheng Marbles Limited, Sapati International Schools Ltd, Trillium Learning Centres Ltd, Standout Institutes Ltd and ESLI Perfect Security Printers Ltd.
Apart from the alleged unlawful sale of Federal Government property in Ghana, the former JAMB registrar was accused of using fake names to acquire companies, open bank accounts, acquire petroleum stations, and buy landed properties in Ilorin, Kwara State, while he was a public officer.
The charges also indicated that his sons acted as agents to facilitate the alleged sale of the house in Ghana.
The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Due to their repeated refusals to accept invitations from the anti-graft agency and the likelihood that additional charges will be brought against them, ICPC lawyer Ebenezer Adenekan Shogunle opposed the granting of bail to Ojerinde and Oluwaseun Adeniyi Ojerinde.
Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo, who took the plea of the defendants, asked the ICPC lawyer if there were pending criminal charges against them and if they were admitted on bail by the courts, to which the counsel answered in the affirmative.
The ICPC lawyer acknowledged that Ojerinde was going through a similar trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja and the Niger State High Court in Minna.
Justice Ekwo invoked the prior bail conditions to admit the former JAMB Registrar to bail after it was established that another Federal High Court in Abuja had previously granted bail to the individual.
The judge, however, admitted his three sons and daughter-in-law on bail in the sum of N20 million and for each of them one surety in like sum who must be property owners in Abuja with verified proofs of ownership.
The original title documents for the properties were to be deposited with the court, the judge ruled. The defendants were instructed to leave their passports in the custody of the court registrar and were prohibited from leaving the country without the court’s permission.
Justice Ekwo instructed Ojerinde, who was openly crying, to get immediate medical attention for his deteriorating health so that he could stand for trial as required by law.
The court subsequently fixed November 13, 14, 15, and 16 for trial, during which the ICPC is expected to call 18 witnesses to testify against the defendants.